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Title: Pope John XXIII:
Model and Mentor for Leaders
 

Author: Rev. Bob (Bernard R.) Bonnot, Ph.D. 
ISBN: 0-8189-0916-1 
xii + 307 pp. 
Price: $22.95 + shipping 


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Lots of management manuals have been written with illustrations drawn from the examples of various managers, and lots of monographs have been published profiling individual leaders, but such books rarely provide both a practical manual one can use while profiling a model one can follow. This volume is unique in that it does both. In the process, John XXIII becomes a spiritual as well as a down-to-earth guide for managers from pastors to presidents. This book reviews the words and works of Angelo Roncalli during the period when he faced the greatest challenge of his life when, at age 77, he assumed the daunting task of leading the Roman Catholic Church into a whole new way of relating to itself and the world at large. Setting a tone, establishing a purpose, outlining a program, having a strategy, selecting a team, keeping on message, using the media, rationing the time available and deliberately pursuing the goals established are just a few of the many managerial skills studied here that set "good Pope John XXIII" apart from others and made him such a consummate model, mentor and patron saint for managers.
 
Bob (Bernard R.) Bonnot was ordained to the priesthood in 1967 at Rome's North American College. He received his Ph.D. for his study on the pontificate of Pope John XXIII from the University of Chicago in 1976 and was one of the pioneers in establishing the now defunct Catholic Television Network of America (CTNA) for the Roman Catholic Bishops of the United States. A priest of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, he is presently serving as Senior Vice President of Programming with the Hallmark Channel.

Reviews

"Leadership is an art as well as a science. As a result, we can and should learn from great leaders. Pope John XXIII is considered one of the most impactful modern church leaders. Read this thoughtful book by Fr. Bonnot and become a better leader." --Ken Blanchard, Co-Author of One Minute Manager and Leadership by the Book

"In the midst of a profound crisis in church leadership, Bob Bonnot's Pope John XXIII paints an inspiring picture of what healthy leadership is meant to be. This is a timely book with important lessons for today's church" --Donald Cozzens, Author of Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church and The Changing Face of the Priesthood

"Bob Bonnot, a priest of the Diocese of Youngstown, was one of the pioneers in establishing the now defunct Catholic Television Network of America for the United States Catholic Bishops. He is now senior vice president, programming, for the Hallmark Channel. His book is 'a manual with case-study for leaders and managers.' He presents principles of management, the example of John XXIII, and questions to help readers apply John's example to their situation. He discusses how John got his job; his strategy during the first 100 days; hs collaborators and administrative routine; crafting his message, using the media, and using his time; his plan for ecumenism; the Synod of Rome; the preparation for Vatican II; and his efforts toward world peace." --W. Charles Heiser, S.J. in Theology Digest Book Survey, Fall 2003

"One account of the Queen of Sheba's memorable visit with King Solomon concludes with her remark, 'the half had not been told me.' This reviewer would say that about this book which presents Blessed John XXIII and his unique initiative, Vatican II. Several books have been written about both subjects but unfortunately, some have not yet been translated, including those by Cardinal Bea, SJ. On the other hand, this one has been admirably researched and clearly written. The author was ordained in Rome shortly before John's election. Though he emphasizes John as a model and mentor for leaders, John was also clearly an attentive student of Church history, a keen observer of human nature and above all, a man of prayer. His leadership style was very much his own. The author earlier had written his doctoral dissertation on this topic at the University of Chicago. These pages contain a great deal of valuable information about where the Church was during the closing years and demise of Pius XII. It may not be widely known that John was one of the five serious possibilities to succeed Pacelli. During the conclave, Cardinal Ottaviani advised him to call a council but Vatican II turned out quite differently from what the Head of the Holy Office had in mind. One early chapter has a very intriguing title, 'How John Got the Job.' Apparently Pius and John never discussed the Papacy. The book also takes its readers on an enlightening trip through John's Papacy. One feels that he or she were present during the discussions with John's distinguished visitors and the pivotal discussions with Cardinals Tardini, Cicognani, Suenens, Bea, Lercaro, Feltin and Montini. John received such unexpected visitors with cordiality and deep respect as Nikita Khruschev's son-in-law and his wife, Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins, Archbishop Fisher of Canterbury and the various non-Catholic observers at the Council's opening session. Father Bonnot's text should be required and thoughtful reading for anyone who wants to know more about Blessed John XXIII, how the council came to be and did its work. Persons of influence and leadership in the Church can learn much on how to do their work better. Each chapter concludes with thoughtful suggestions and questions about what can be gleaned from John's ways of leadership." --Henry C. Mayer in Pastoral Life, February 2004

Without question one of the most important leaders of the 20th Century, and extending into the 21st Century, was His Holiness Pope John XXIII. His imposing figure immediately captured the hearts of millions, shaped Christian theology, and changed the direction of the universal Church. John's heart and gifts, the sanctity of his unique life, has now been honored through the process of beatification. These are no minor accomplishments for a man who considered himself to be little more than a humble Italian peasant. "Good Pope John," beyond being the titular head of the Roman Catholic Church, was an excellent leader. This is an important distinction. There have been many good and godly popes, but not all good popes were great leaders. John was. Priests, pastors, as well as any person interested in effective leadership, would do well to learn from this devout man. Lessons learned from Pope John's person, program and strategy are the theme of Fr. Bonnot's excellent text. Bonnot's Prologue takes time to review the context of John's leadership. What was John up against when he was elected and coronated to the papal office in 1958? This basic question constitutes the foundation upon which Fr. Bonnot constructs later chapters. The Prologue is an informed and interesting read, although its leadership principles do not become apparent until later. The remaining headings ("Getting Set," Getting the Job Done," and "Conclusion"), each with subheadings addressing particular leadership principles appropriate to each, are a wonderful read. Quotable gems are scattered throughout the text. Fr. Bonnot, who received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago on the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, certainly knows his subject and provides leaders with an excellent history and resource. I conclude my hearty recommendation of this engaging text with a quote from His Holiness Pope John XXIII: "One has to trample underfoot one's ego... if one expects to be free enough to lead well and carry out the designs of providence" (p. 44). I hope this whets your appetite. --Fr. Donald P. Richmond in the January/February 2004 issue of The Anglican Missioner

"The key word in the subtitle is 'leaders.' Fr. Bonnot has written a book on management and leadership skills using Pope John XXIII as model. One's first thoughts are on the seeming dichotomy between the papacy and modern management skills. This isn't something that comes together in my mind anyway. However, in retrospect, the accomplishments of John XXIII had to have been initiated and carried out by a leader with very special leadership skills.
          The Prologue traces the beginnings of John XXIII's papacy from its inception in 1958 and describes the state of the Church after the death of Pius XII. It was obvious to the fledgling pope that some changes had to be made.
          Part One of the book is titled 'Getting Set' and it is here that particular skills and strategies are spelled out. Defining a program, setting a course of action with strategies, and assembling a team are discussed with particular reference to the papacy. Administrative routines, media issues and timelines are expanded upon. Each chapter ends with a series of questions to make the information personally relevant.
          Part Two of the book deals with the Pope specifically and how he got things done. The particular issues of Ecumenism, Vatican II, and World Peace were early identified as necessary goals to accomplish the ultimate changes in the Church that were envisioned.
          The book concludes with a closer look at three dimensions of John XXIII's leadership -- his strategy, his tactics, and his personal spirituality. The book contains extensive notes, a bibliography and an index.
          This is a fascinating study of how crucial events of John XXIII's papacy were planned and executed. The style of the book is more like a manual on leadership than just an historical perspective on changes in the Church. The uses for the book are multiple -- for Church leaders, those who would become Church leaders, and commission and committee leaders. The spiritual dimension is what sets this book apart and makes it worthy of inclusion in most library collections." --Arnold Rzepecki in Catholic Library World, November 11, 2003

          "When Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was elected pope in the consistory called after the death of Pius XII in 1958, he startled the world with his quotation from Genesis, "I am Joseph, your brother." After the long pontificate of his emotionally distant predecessor, people had almost forgotten that the pope has a family, a history and a personality.
          In his Pope John XXIII: Model and Mentor for Leaders, Father Bob (Bernard R.) Bonnot captures very well the excitement that the election of the new pope caused. Not a biography, the book analyzes John's leadership style in this brief but highly significant time in the Church's history. John XXIII's leadership was both intuitive and effective. Within a short time, he set the Church's course to accomplish three things: to hold a Roman Synod, to call an ecumenical council to address the pastoral needs of the modern world, and to revise the Code of Canon Law. In his lifetime, he held the Synod and set the direction of the Council. The new Code was published in 1983, 20 years after he died. His brief pontificate had a revolutionary impact on the Church.
          Father Bonnot traces the history of this period in detail and shows how the selection of key leaders and staff members reflected and complemented John's style and brought about effective change in the Church. Throughout Pope John XXIII: Model and Mentor for Leaders, Father Bonnot returns to three goals that John had during his entire time as pope: truth, unity and peace. These were the foundation for his work on the Council as well. The history of the Council is well documented elsewhere. The treatment here is really focused on John's efforts to set the direction and his struggle to have the preparatory documents reflect his purposes in calling the Council. The book underscores three addresses that were pivotal in this regard: the one he delivered on Pentecost, June 5, 1960, and the two opening addresses, September 11 and October 11, 1962.
          John XXIII developed cancer at the beginning of the Council and died on June 3, 1963. During his last year, he dedicated himself to world peace and produced one of the finest papal documents of the last half of the twentieth century, Pacem in Terris. To the end he read the revisions of the conciliar preparatory documents and the proceedings of the Council itself.
          Pope John XXIII: Model and Mentor for Leaders ends with a well-developed chapter on John's strategy, tactics and spirituality. This last section is especially well-conceived and written. Pope John XXIII's spirituality, as described by Father Bonnot, is a description of priestly spirituality in practice.
          I did not know what to expect when I picked up this book. I found myself looking forward to reading it each night. I recommend it both to priests interested in leadership and to the general reader who might be interested in the exciting time that the Council was as it was led by the Holy Spirit." --Rev. Don Piraro in The Priest, September 2003

"The author reviews the words and works of Angelo Roncalli during the period when he faced the greatest challenge of his life when, at age seventy-seven, he assumed the daunting task of leading the Roman Catholic Church into a whole new way of relating to itself and the world at large. The Pope's managerial skills set him apart from others and made him a consummate model, mentor, and patron saint for managers. This is a unique and thoughtful guide for managers from pastors to presidents." --Theological Book Service in Bookviews, May 2003

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